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ISSN: 2155-9910

Journal of Marine Science: Research & Development
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Research Article

Three Widely-Available Dispersants Substantially Increase the Biodegradation of otherwise Undispersed Oil

Prince RC*, Kelley BA and Butler JD

ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences, Inc., Annandale, NJ 08801, USA

*Corresponding Author:
Prince RC
ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences, Inc., Annandale, NJ 08801, USA
Tel: +19087302134
Fax: +19087301199
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: January 29, 2016; Accepted Date: February 05, 2016; Published Date: February 10, 2016

Citation: Prince RC, Kelley BA, Butler JD (2016) Three Widely-Available Dispersants Substantially Increase the Biodegradation of Otherwise Undispersed Oil. J Marine Sci Res Dev 6:183. doi: 10.4172/2155-9910.1000183

Copyright: © 2016 Prince RC, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

Dispersants are essential tools for responding to large marine oil spills, both at the surface and in deep water at uncontrolled well-heads. By reducing the interfacial tension between oil and water, they allow turbulence from surface wavelets or well-head ejection to disperse oil as tiny droplets (<70m). Although the intrinsic density of the oil is unaffected, droplets are too small to rise rapidly, and minor turbulence and diffusive dilution impede droplet encounter and coalescence. Oil droplets disperse to very dilute concentrations, and provide substantial surface area for indigenous microbes to rapidly degrade the oil hydrocarbons. While the literature on this latter point is confused because few experiments have assessed biodegradation at environmentally relevant concentrations in natural seawater, we show here that three dispersants widely-available in international stockpiles effectively stimulate biodegradation when compared to oil in floating slicks, decreasing the residence time of the oil in the environment from many months (and potentially years if tarballs form or the oil reaches a shoreline) to a few weeks.

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